Going into this year, if they were honest, most Chicago Cubs fans would have told you that they would have been happy with a .500 record after three years of crap. At 97 wins, the Cubs fans considered this a “bonus year” as they were assumed to have arrived into contention a year sooner than most expected.
Then the Cubs won the Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, advancing to the National League Division Series. For the first time ever, the Cubs and St Louis Cardinals would meet in the postseason.
The Cardinals won the season series against the Cubs, but this is the postseason; what happened in the regular season means absolutely nothing. This is a new season, the postseason.
Cardinals won the first game, before the Cubs came right back, winning the next three game. For the first time in their franchise history, the Cubs won a postseason series at Wrigley Field.
This was a great series filled with emotion for the Cubs players and their fans. In game three, the Cubs set a Major League Postseason record by hitting six homers in a single game. Homers by Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler and Dexter Fowler carried the team on a night when staff Ace Jake Arrieta looked very human.
With this series win, the Cubs await to see who they will be facing in the National League Championship Series. Will they be traveling West to face the Los Angeles Dodgers or East to face the New York Mets? I am not sure that the team the Cubs face matters all too much. This team is good. This team is really really good.
With this win, this season can no longer be seen as a “bonus year”, but a year when the Cubs are a legitimate threat to win the World Series.
Knocking the Cardinals out of the playoffs feels good. Knocking the Cardinals out of the playoffs feels like a coming out party and a message not only to the Cardinals, not even just to the National League Central Division, but to the entire National League.
The Cubs are here. The Cubs are real. You are all in big big trouble.
In a way, knocking the Cardinals out of the playoffs is fitting, as things would be if the Cubs meet up with the Mets and eliminate them as well. Knock out the team that has used you as a doormat for years, and then the team that took away the World Series away from what might be the most loved Cubs team of all time (until maybe this year’s).
The clinching game was not without drama though, as Jason Hammel would see the Cubs go down 2-0 early. That lead would not last long as the Cubs would strike for four in the following inning. Hammel would knock the first Cubs run in himself, but on the very next pitch Javier Baez would blast a three run homer giving the Cubs a 4-2 lead.
Of course, you knew things would not be easy. The Cardinals would the the game at 4-4, Soler has a fantastic throw to nail a man at the plate and keep things tied. The tie would not last long though as Rizzo would blast a solo shot in the bottom half of the inning to once again give the Cubs the lead. This time for good. Just for good measure, and a little insurance, Schwarber hit a homer of his own to ice the game away. A homer which I am not sure has even landed yet.
This series win had the feel of what Boston Red Sox fans must have felt when they eliminated their main rival New York Yankees in 2004 to reach the World Series. Of course, the Cubs have not made the World Series (yet), but eliminating your biggest rival in the postseason gives you a feel of being unstoppable!
Ladies and gentlemen, the Cubs are heading to the National League Championship Series where Arrieta and Jon Lester will pitch the first two games.
Enjoy this feeling Cubs fans, because this is just the beginning!